How the ancient city of Palmyra looked before the fighting – in pictures


Islamic State fighters now appear to have taken control of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra – threatening the destruction of this world heritage site’s priceless architecture and art

Photograph: Fernando Arias/Getty Images/Flickr RF Photograph: Fernando Arias/Getty Images/Flickr RF

Hadrian’s Gate, Palmyra

Known as the ‘Venice of the Sands’, the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra – located at the edge of an oasis of date palms and gardens – was a wealthy caravan centre from the 1st to the 3rd centuries CE, sometimes independent and at other times under the control of Rome

Photograph: Julian Kaesler/Getty Images/Flickr Open Photograph: Julian Kaesler/Getty Images/Flickr Open

Desert citadel

Palmyra has been designated a site of Outstanding Universal Value by Unesco: ‘Its grand, colonnaded street of 1100 metres’ length forms the monumental axis of the city, which together with secondary colonnaded cross streets links the major public monuments including the Temple of Ba’al, Diocletian’s Camp, the Agora, theatre, other temples and urban quarters’

Photograph: Alamy Photograph: Alamy

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